Seating That Doubles as Art

It’s no coincidence that these patterned chairs are strikingly regal—they were originally made as thrones by the Yoruba people of Nigeria and other parts of West Africa. Each is beaded over every inch of its surface, front, back, and sides—tiny seed beads are hand sewn onto fabric stretched over wooden frames.

The work has spiritual meaning and decorative impact, and reflects both longstanding traditions and European influences. Needless to say, each chair takes months to complete and no two are exactly alike.

Of late, Yoruba beaded seating is coveted the world over. We were introduced to our first example in Paris concept store Merci’s showcase apartment (shown above and below). Since then, we’ve been collecting sightings, and have yet to encounter an example that isn’t spectacular. Come see.

a beaded yoruba chair via from the tribe; a wildlife documentary filmmaker 9
Above: A Beaded Yoruba Chair via From the Tribe; a wildlife documentary filmmaker’s online shop in Bristol, England, that delivers worldwide. Prices on request (a similar example is available from the gallery for £2,450). Also see the African Beaded Chair, $2,400, at Bloom By Anuschka in Denver.
each yoruba throne is composed of thousands of tiny seed beads, but not all are 10
Above: Each Yoruba throne is composed of thousands of tiny seed beads, but not all are brightly colored. This pale example is from LA interior design firm Nickey Kehoe, which, from time to time, offers Yoruba beaded chairs in its Beverly Boulevard boutique.
the original chair that inspired us—in the home office at the merci seco 11
Above: The original chair that inspired us—in the home office at the Merci Second Residence, a historic Paris apartment reinvented by the concept store: see Lessons in Mixing and Matching.

Merci’s Nigerian Beaded Armchair was sourced from CSAO of Paris, which currently has several beaded Yoruba chairs priced from €2,900 to €3,200. Also see the offerings from Design Mix Gallery of LA, which include a black-and-white checked, rounded Yoruba Beaded Chair for $2,400.

one of several nigerian beaded chairs recently spotted at the malibu village, l 12
Above: One of several Nigerian beaded chairs recently spotted at the Malibu Village, Los Angeles, outpost of Res Ipsa, a fashion chain started, in its founders’ words, by “two lawyers who decided the world needs fewer lawyers but better shoes: our brand is travel.” Inquire about availability and pricing.
6 Favorites Yoruba Beaded Armchairs from West Africa portrait 7_27
Above Two-toned beaded armchairs in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, loft by New York interior designer Marc C. Houston of  MHLI. Photograph by Claire Esparros, courtesy of Marc Houston.
an inviting bedroom in dar beida (the white house), a rental property in essaou 14
Above: An inviting bedroom in Dar Beida (The White House), a rental property in Essaouira, Morocco, available through Castles in the Sand.

More things we’re currently coveting: